Pitt dominated Stanford through three quarters in the 2018 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas on Monday, but the Cardinal came through when it counted, scoring the lone touchdown of the fourth quarter on a lucky bounce to beat Pitt, 14-13.
Stanford K.J. Costello was sacked by a Pitt defensive end on the Panthers’ 2-yard line and stripped of the ball, but Costello fumbled forward into the end zone, where it was recovered by Stanford running back Cameron Scarlett for the game-winning score.
Pitt had two more chances to re-gain the lead. Alex Kessman missed a 55-yard field goal on the first opportunity. Pitt was stopped when Kenny Pickett’s pass attempt to Taysir Mack was off the mark on the fourth down on the final drive.
Pickett passed for 136 yards, more than in either of his last two games, but was an inefficient 11 of 29 and missed many open receivers throughout the game.
Pitt’s rushing game was paced by Darrin Hall, who had 123 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. Qadree Ollison was lost to an ankle injury in the first quarter, and A.J. Davis filled in with 26 yards on six carries.
Pitt opened the scoring with a 29-yard field goal by Kessman at 14:14 of the second quarter after a long Hall run got Pitt inside the red zone.
Stanford answered with a 1-yard plunge for a score by Scarlett later in the second quarter, but Hall scored on a six-yard carry before the half to send the Panthers into the break up, 10-7.
Kessman added a second field goal late in the third quarter to give Pitt at 13-7 lead. Pitt had three drives go into the red zone, and had two short field goals and a touchdown.
The Panthers also had five drives stall between the Stanford 42 and the Stanford 37. They attempted just one field goal on those drives.
Pitt finishes its 2018 season at 7-7, a two-game improvement from 2017. The Panthers have lost four consecutive bowl games, dating back to the 2013 Little Ceasars Pizza Bowl.